Kitchen Witch - Pass the pate, love

Only at this time of year do I get inspired to use lots of eggs, cream and butter. What the hell, I say, it's only once a year that I indulge in artery heavy-hitters such as eggnog, chocolate truffles and chicken liver pate. Not only are these heady treats great fun to nibble over a roaring fire, they're simply glamorous. For the better part of a Christmas cartoon special, you can feel like the Fitzgeralds — isn't that right, dahling?

There's one small catch, though. In order to get to pate land, you've got to wade in the world of chicken livers. Squirmy little things that they are, chicken livers can arouse the creeps in even the most stalwart of cooks. I am always struck by their bloody exterior, a reminder that I'm dealing with organ meat. I'm a big baby for a few minutes, then once I get those shallots going in the butter, my temperament mellows and I begin to embrace their musky aroma as they dance in a puddle of my favorite bourbon.

So, are you ready for some cholesterol, gang? Let the holiday splurge begin!

Boozy chicken liver pate

1 shallot, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 1 stick, melted

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 tub of chicken livers (about 1 pound)

1/4 cup brandy, cognac or bourbon

Rinse chicken livers and trim off fat and any hard tendons. In a deep skillet, saute the shallot in 2 tablespoons of butter for about 2 minutes, until softened a bit. Add livers, bay leaf and nutmeg. Gently cook on medium heat, until firm and slightly pink, about 15 minutes. Add alcohol of choice and bring up to a boil, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove bay leaf.

Let mixture cool slightly, about 10 minutes, and transfer mixture to the bowl of a food processor.

Add melted butter to mixture while machine is running, and blend until smooth. Taste for salt. Scoop out, place in a covered bowl that will be chilled for several hours or overnight.

Serve at room temperature, with crackers, toast points or on a spoon in front of the television. Keeps for at least one week in an airtight container.

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